Expressed parental concern regarding childhood stuttering and the Test of Childhood Stuttering

Victoria Tumanova, Dahye Choi, Edward G. Conture, Tedra A. Walden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the Test of Childhood Stuttering observational rating scales (TOCS; Gillam et al., 2009) (1) differed between parents who did versus did not express concern (independent from the TOCS) about their child's speech fluency; (2) correlated with children's frequency of stuttering measured during a child-examiner conversation; and (3) correlated with the length and complexity of children's utterances, as indexed by mean length of utterance (MLU). Method: Participants were 183 young children ages 3:0–5:11. Ninety-one had parents who reported concern about their child's stuttering (65 boys, 26 girls) and 92 had parents who reported no such concern (50 boys, 42 girls). Participants’ conversational speech during a child-examiner conversation was analyzed for (a) frequency of occurrence of stuttered and non-stuttered disfluencies, and (b) MLU. Besides expressing concern or lack thereof about their child's speech fluency, parents completed the TOCS observational rating scales documenting how often they observe different disfluency types in speech of their children, as well as disfluency-related consequences. Results: There were three main findings. First, parents who expressed concern (independently from the TOCS) about their child's stuttering reported significantly higher scores on the TOCS Speech Fluency and Disfluency-Related Consequences rating scales. Second, children whose parents rated them higher on the TOCS Speech Fluency rating scale produced more stuttered disfluencies during a child-examiner conversation. Third, children with higher scores on the TOCS Disfluency-Related Consequences rating scale had shorter MLU during child-examiner conversation, across age and level of language ability. Conclusions: Findings support the use of the TOCS observational rating scales as one documentable, objective means to determine parental perception of and concern about their child's stuttering. Findings also support the notion that parents are reasonably accurate, if not reliable, judges of the quantity and quality (i.e., stuttered vs. non-stuttered) of their child's speech disfluencies. Lastly, findings that some children may decrease their verbal output in attempts to minimize instances of stuttering – as indexed by relatively low MLU and a high TOCS Disfluency-Related Consequences scores – provides strong support for sampling young children's speech and language across various situations to obtain the most representative index possible of the child's MLU and associated instances of stuttering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-96
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Assessment
  • Childhood stuttering
  • Disfluencies
  • Linguistic complexity
  • Mean length of utterances
  • Parental concern
  • Preschool-age children
  • Test of Childhood Stuttering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Expressed parental concern regarding childhood stuttering and the Test of Childhood Stuttering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this